Proverbs 1:5 NIV
When we think about the mistakes that we’ve made, we can realise that often it was our thinking at the time that caused them. We need to learn to keep challenging our thinking. The Bible says: Let the wise listen and add to their learning.’ So how do we do that? We need to learn to appreciate how others think and continually expose ourselves to people who think differently from us. We’ll tend to think like the people we spend the most time with. When we spend time with people who think outside the box, we’re more likely to be open to new ideas. Any time we find a way of thinking that works, our greatest temptation is to rely on it repeatedly – even if it doesn’t work in new situations. Holding on to a good tradition is a good thing, but we need to remember that not every tradition is a good idea for the future. When we cling to what’s already in place, we resist change. That’s why it’s important for us to challenge our own thinking. If we’re too attached to how things are done now, nothing will change for the better. We also need to saturate our mind with God’s truth, by spending time reading our Bible’s. The more we understand God’s Word, the easier it’ll be to change our thoughts to line up with it. The Bible says: ‘Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). We need to become aware of our wrong-thinking, and change it to be in line with God’s Word. Changing our thoughts isn’t easy, especially if we’ve thought that way for a long time, but if we want to change how we live, we need to start replacing our thoughts with godly ones.
Isa 12-16; Matt 10:21-31; Ps 104:24-35; Prov 3:11-12
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
No church is perfect; each will have its own set of problems and challenges. But there are some challenges which most churches will face. 1) Breaking free from routine. Ever noticed how much people don’t like change? Whether it’s a new worship song or a new layout of the chairs, change can cause complaints and disunity to spread through the church. But when we get stuck in routines, we can find our worship becoming mundane. We lose our passion and can end up lukewarm rather than on fire for God (have a read of Revelation 3:14-22). Change can be a risk, but if it helps us draw closer to God then it’s worth it. 2) Finding balance. A big challenge for churches is finding the balance between looking ‘in’ and looking ‘out’. Jesus said: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ This shows us that we need to be focused on evangelism, which means going out into the world and telling people about Jesus. But we also need to be focused on teaching people and helping them to mature in their relationship with God. If we are too focused on evangelising, we are not helping those in our churches to grow. If we are too focused on those already in our churches, we are not sharing Jesus with others. 3) Relevance. Churches can become too focused on making church ‘attractive’ to people by trying to keep up with latest trends. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be relevant; it’s important to know and understand the way society works. But God still needs to be at the centre. If we are more focused on being relevant than glorifying God then our priorities need to change.
Zech 9-11; John 21:1-14; Ps 12; Prov 31:1-5
Mark 4:15 NIV
Ever hear a talk or read a passage in the Bible and then a few moments later struggle to remember what it was about? This doesn’t always come down to whether or not we have a good memory. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, ‘Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.’ The enemy doesn’t want us to remember what God’s said to us. He doesn’t want to let God’s Word produce fruit in our lives. So how can we retain it? 1) Write it down. When we make notes on what we read and hear, we will retain more, be more impacted, and get much more out of it. God told Habakkuk: ‘Write down the revelation’ (Habakkuk 2:2 NIV), and we need to get into the habit of doing that too. 2) Pray it through. Unless we pray over the Word we are hearing, we will remain unchanged by it. We need to ask God to help us understand how the things we have been taught can apply to us. 3) Discuss it with others. God’s Word is like a seed that multiplies and grows when it’s watered by conversation with others who share our faith. 4) Practise it daily. It’s not good to just remember what we have been taught, we also need to do something with it. We need to allow it to change us. In the Bible, James wrote: ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says’ (James 1:22 NIV). The more we practise all of these steps, the easier it will be to prevent the enemy from stealing the seeds of God’s Word from us.
Neh 1-4; John 18:1-11; Ps 148:7-14; Prov 29:16-21
Psalm 1:2 NKJV
To go deeper in our faith we need to go beyond just reading our Bibles and take the time to meditate on what we are reading. We can be frightened of the word ‘meditate’ but the word is defined as focusing our minds on something or thinking deeply about something. When we meditate on God’s Word, we are shutting out all distractions and fixing our minds on the truths we are reading. By thinking deeply about what the Bible says we can begin to gain understanding, wisdom, and start to hear what God wants to say to us through His Word. Peter was so dependent on the words of Jesus that he said, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life’ (John 6:68 NLT). And Job said, ‘I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread’ (Job 23:12 NIV). As we meditate on God’s Word we develop a mind-set that enables us to rise above our fears. ‘My word…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). His Word has power to bring change to our lives, our minds, and our situations. His Word will accomplish His purposes in our lives. That’s why the enemy will battle us over finding time to read our Bibles. But we have to prioritise time reading and thinking about the Bible, even when we are really busy. And when we have made that time, let’s make sure that we are moving beyond simply reading passages. We need to be thinking and meditating on what we are reading. Let’s ask God to transform us and show us new things in His Word.
1 Chr 1-2; John 7:45-53; Ps 9; Prov 24:30-34
Isaiah 40:29 TLB
Sports Illustrated magazine says, “Stress fractures begin when the shocks and strains of playing game after game create tiny cracks in outer layers of bone. When those cracks become large enough to cause severe pain, they are known as ‘stress fractures.'” If you’ve ever had a stress-fractured mind, you can relate. It eats at you by day and keeps you awake at night. And when you try to “medicate” it with alcohol, or drugs, or an affair, or overeating, or a hyperactive lifestyle, it gets worse. What should you do? (1) Change your focus. “Come to me…and I will give you rest…Let me teach you…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT). “He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:29-31 TLB). Instead of struggling alone with the burden, share it with the burden-bearer and let Him strengthen you. (2) Lighten up! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Don’t make such a big deal out of everything! Lighten up and laugh more, especially at yourself! Do you even remember the last time you enjoyed a good laugh? Accept your imperfections. Let some stuff go. Stop trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman. Get away for some fun. Yes, you need fun too! Cancel some of your not-so-important meetings. If you want things to change, you will have to change them. Today talk to God; He knows how to heal stress fractures.
Soul food: 1 Tim 4-6; John 5:31-47; Ps 126; Prov 24:10